Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US first lady’s tab: $250K

US first lady’s tab: $250K

US first lady’s tab: $250K

Hotel accommodation for Michelle Obama’s two-day visit to Siem Reap last month cost almost $250,000, according to a US government document.

The first lady made the historic visit to Cambodia in an effort to advance her “Let Girls Learn” initiative in a country where females still face significant disadvantages in education.

During the trip, she met with female students, delivered a speech to Peace Corps volunteers and visited the Angkor Wat temple complex.

According to a justification and approval document for the visit, which was released on Friday, the estimated cost of accommodation for the trip is $242,500.

Eighty-five single rooms, five office suites, five sleeping suites and one conference room were booked out for two weeks at the five-star Sofitel Angkor Phokeetra Golf and Spa Resort.

Other contracts were awarded to two other luxury hotels – Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor and Victoria Angkor Resort and Spa – but details were not included.

The contract cites the “unusual and compelling urgency” of the trip, explaining that “security concerns prohibit sufficient advanced notification of VIP travel to allow for sufficient time to conduct full and open competition.”

In a speech last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen took aim at the first lady’s visit, calling on the US Embassy and USAID to make good on supposed scholarship promises and front some cash if they truly want to make an impact on education in Cambodia.

The embassy declined to comment, directing questions to the White House.

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